Take action or expect status quo
By Anita Gibson, AEA President
If educators, parents, and community members have learned any lesson from our current circumstances, it must be that our role as advocates for our children and our public schools must become a priority. Now is the time to join forces and stand strong for our children.
As education employees we must acknowledge the facts: everything about our jobs is controlled by either an elected official or someone appointed by an elected official. Our salary, benefits, classroom size, evaluations, length of our school year and school day, funding for critical programs, whether or not our school systems hire or contract out our ESP jobs, and the list continues.
Many parents, community members, and yes, even education employees give legislators unlimited power once they are elected because they are not engaged in the process of what is taking place in Montgomery during the legislative session. We seem to forget how they got in their position – by a vote of the people in their respective districts. Votes from the same people for whom they are sent to Montgomery to be a voice. Sadly, it appears many of our elected leaders forget all too quickly that same fact.
It is only when we, the voters of this state, sit back and do nothing that our elected leaders assume the power we give them. The time has come when we can no longer allow this assumption of power to continue. You have a responsibility to the children of your respective districts and communities to hold your legislators accountable for every vote they cast.
AEA understands that in order to attract and retain the best education professionals for our public schools, we must be competitive with salaries, benefits, and opportunities as it relates to our profession. We are not interested in mediocre personnel in our public schools. That is why we will fight for legislation that will provide a decent wage for all education employees and a COLA for our retirees.
I hope you had the opportunity to watch the Governor’s State of the State address. As I listened, I heard the governor himself state that “a good salary is more than making ends meet.” He also stated that “there is nothing more important to the success of students than the teacher.” I will add, Governor, that it is not just the teacher, but every education employee, and our retirees who continue to volunteer in our schools, and who are important to the success of our students. The governor went on to say that “people across the state know teaching is a noble profession and deserves better salaries.” Again, Governor, I will add that every education employee deserves better salaries, and our retirees deserve a COLA.
Many of our members have enough college hours, degrees, and training to have become doctors, pharmacists, attorneys, anything we like. But we chose, by the governor’s own words, a noble profession – the education of the children of this great state. Our families should not suffer because of our decisions. Education employees and retirees in this state should not have to hold two or three jobs just to be able to provide for their families.
This is why it is so important that we step outside our comfort zones and contact our legislators letting them know that we expect a pay raise during this session that will not be an insult. We must stand alongside our retirees as we fight for a COLA for them, and we must not let what happened to our postsecondary employees happen again. We must recognize this tactic for what it is – divide and conquer.
It is time for you to step up, take charge, and be involved! Contact your legislator today.
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